April 16, 2024

There should be more teeth in the proposed amendment to the 28-year-old Trade Fair Ordinance and there should be less room for (mis)interpretations of its provisions.
This was underscored by Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan in reaction to the flak the city council is getting for skirting the ordinance when it approved a trade fair at the Juan Luna Drive.
The amendments, however, should contain provisions that carry rules that govern the use of parks and public spaces for commerce.
Olowan said although the ordinance prohibits trade fairs at public parks, similar activities are allowed to operate such as the night market along Harrison Road and the Baguio Blooms/Market Encounter of the Panagbenga.
“There are many ways to evade the ordinance and this is what the proposed amendment seeks to address,” Olowan said, stressing the amendment sets regulations on the use of all public parks and roads.
Meanwhile, Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda, one of the five councilors who voted against the latest trade fair, said citizens could challenge the council’s move not just on the basis on the use of public parks but also on the fact that the products sold in these trade fairs are not innovations, but the same ones sold at the public parks and in souvenir stores.
In an interview aired over a local radio station, Tabanda said there is a case filed in 2016 by businessman Ellen Lao about the use of the Melvin Jones football field for the fundraising for the city’s hosting of delegates of the Miss Universe.
The court gave cognizance on the validity of the Trade Fair Ordinance by issuing a restraining order that stalled the holding of a bazaar at said area.
In March, the city council deferred approval on second reading after publication the proposed ordinance amending the Trade Fair Ordinance to consider more suggestions and recommendations.
The council will also study if a public consultation on the proposal is necessary following concerns on the revisions on some of the provisions of the existing ordinance and to assure it will not violate existing laws.
The proposed amendments, authored by Councilor Isabelo Cosalan, Jr., seeks to amend Section 2 of the ordinance as to allow trade fairs “that promote agricultural, industrial, indigenous, and commercial products, crafts, and other merchandise through inter-regional trading that will foster better livelihood opportunities, enhance local tourism, and help advance economic development for a period not exceeding 15 days in suitable private places and city-owned or managed public parks, including government-owned and controlled properties, roads, and facilities.”
He also seeks to exempt Burnham Park from the holding of trade fairs, which should only be allowed through a special ordinance allowing such activities in the area. – Rimaliza A. Opiña